David Blunkett voices regrets over Gary McKinnon and extradition treaty

David Blunkett said today that he knew about Gordon Brown's attempt to appeal to Washington over the fate of Gary McKinnon and that he thought it had been a "really good idea".

However, in a significant admission, Blunkett said, in hindsight, that the extradition treaty between the US and Britain – signed when he was home secretary in 2003 – could have been better.

Giving evidence to the Commons home affairs committee, Blunkett said: "The seven years since the extradition treaty have taught me one thing: that the theory of what we signed could have been improved."

Blunkett told MPs that developments in cyber-crime had caused him to reflect on the fairness of allowing a UK citizen to be extradited for an offence affecting US computer systems that occurred in the UK. "[If we were] looking at a case like Gary McKinnon seven years ago and someone had put to me the possibility for someone to commit crime from one jurisdiction directly into the next, we would have reflected on that," Blunkett said. "I think it's really important that where the substantive nature of offences take place on our homeland, we deal with them as a domestic offence."

Also giving evidence, McKinnon's mother, Janis Sharp, said her son's mental health was deteriorating as uncertainty remained over the outcome of his case, which started in March 2002. However, she expressed confidence that the government would keep its pre-election promises not to allow McKinnon to be extradited. She said that Nick Clegg, David Cameron, the attorney general Dominic Grieve and the climate change secretary Chris Huhne had all said that if they were elected they would ensure McKinnon stayed in Britain.

Sharp added: "I'm sure they wouldn't want to use a vulnerable man to win votes in an election, so I'm hoping that their pre-election promises will be kept."

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